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Submissions and Letters

CLD’s formal submissions and letters to international organisations and governments.

Nova Scotia: Submission on the Right to Information Act

29 November 2023. The Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) is today launching publicly its Submission to the Review of Nova Scotia’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Legislation (FOIPOP Act). The Submission, which was provided in response to a call for inputs from the government of Nova Scotia, Canada, assesses the FOIPOP Act, which scores a weak 86 points on the RTI Rating (see here for the full Rating).

Canada: Submission to the UPR on the Right to Information

5 April 2023. The Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD), in collaboration with the Centre for Free Expression (CFE), the Canadian Institute for Information and Privacy Studies (CIIPS) and Democracy Watch, has made a Submission to Session 44 of the Universal Periodic Review on the Right to Information in Canada, a process which is overseen by the United Nations Human Rights Council. The entire Submission focuses on problems with the federal right to information (access to information) system in Canada, which has been broken for many years now.

UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression: Submission on Challenges to Freedom of Expression in Times of Armed Conflict

13 July 2022. The Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) prepared a Submission in response to a call for inputs on challenges to freedom of expression in times of armed conflict and other disturbances by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression. In addition to making a number of direct recommendations for States and social media platforms, CLD’s Submission lists several areas where further exploration by the Special Rapporteur would be useful, given the novelty of this issue.

Among the issues covered in the Submission are the responsibilities of social media companies during armed conflict in relation to responsibilities of social media companies during armed conflict in relation to:

    • Measures, such as content moderation and deprioritisation, for harmful speech.
    • Decisions to deplatform.
    • Transparency issues.

Canada: Submission on British Columbia Right to Information Law

31 March 2022. The Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) made a Submission to the British Columbia (BC) all-party Special Committee to Review the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), the local right to information law. This follows an appearance before the Committee by CLD Executive Director, Toby Mendel, on 16 March 2022. Although relatively strong by Canadian standards, the BC law was weakened by amendments which were rushed through in late 2021 and, internationally, would rank in 50th place from among the 135 national laws assessed on the RTI Rating. CLD’s Submission makes a number of recommendations for reforms.

Canada: Note on Needed Revisions to British Columbia’s Proposed Amendments to the Access to Information Legislation

1 November 2021. The Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) released a Note providing in-depth assessments of the main proposed amendments to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) which are being proposed by the government of British Columbia, Canada, through Bill 22. The proposals represent a serious backsliding on transparency in British Columbia. This note follows the release of its assessment of Bill 22 based on the RTI Rating, a sophisticated methodology for evaluating the strength of legal frameworks for the right to information. CLD’s Note on Bill 22 is available here.

Canada: Proposals for Harmful Content Online Need More Human Rights Safeguards

27 September 2021. The Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) released a Submission to the official consultation on the Government of Canada’s proposals to address harmful content online. The proposals would impose several obligations on online platforms, including to monitor content proactively, report harmful content to law enforcement bodies and create procedures for users to flag content for review. The proposals would also create several new independent regulatory bodies tasked with enforcement of the abovementioned obligations and hearing appeals about content moderation. CLD’s Submission identifies the human rights risks of these proposals and proposes solutions to address those risks.

Canada: Submission to Access to Information Act Review

17 August 2021. The Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) released their joint Submission to the formal review of Canada’s federal Access to Information Act (ATIA), launched in June 2020. Many of the recommendations for change raised in the Submission have featured in previous submissions by CLD, the BCCLA and various other stakeholders, demonstrating the need for the federal government to abandon its piecemeal approach to amending the ATIA in favour of root-and-branch reform.

Nova Scotia, Canada: Party Leaders Fail to Commit on Access to Information Reform

6 August 2021. The Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) released open letters sent last week to the leaders of the three main Nova Scotian political parties, the Liberal PartyProgressive Conservative Association and New Democratic Party, along with the responses of each party (Liberal/PC/NDP). Sent in the middle of an election campaign, the open letters request party leaders to make election promises to conduct a comprehensive review of the local right to information (RTI) act, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPOP) and to make three more specific commitments. All three parties responded in a timely manner to our letters, but all failed to make the promises we asked for, instead repeating vague promises to improve the act that have proven ineffective in the past.

Russia: Letter in Solidarity with Ivan Pavlov

7 May 2021: CLD joined more than 90 other organisations and individuals in endorsing a letter in solidarity with Ivan Pavlov, a Russian human rights activist and lawyer who has been criminally charged with disclosing data of a preliminary investigation which has been declared secret. The likely reason for these charges is Pavlov’s role, along with other members of Team 29, which he heads, in defending opposition leader Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) and campaign offices against criminal accusations of advocating extremism.

Submission on Disinformation to the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, March 2020

CLD provided a Submission on disinformation to the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression. The Submission is in response to a call by the Special Rapporteur for inputs into her June 2021 report to the Human Rights Council, which will focus on disinformation and freedom of expression. CLD’s Submission reviews the main responses by both States and intermediaries to disinformation, analyses them from the perspective of freedom of expression and makes recommendations for future action.

Submission on the Right to Information to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, February 2020

CLD provided a written Submission on Normative Frameworks for the Right to Information to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The OHCHR is preparing a report on this issue to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council at its forty-seventh session in June 2021.

Note on the Draft African Declaration on Freedom of Expression, August 2019

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) adopted the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa in 2002. After 17 years, the Commission has now decided to update the Declaration and, to this end, the African Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information released a new draft  for comments in May 2019. The Centre for Law and Democracy  and the Freedom of Expression Hub (FOE-HUB) submitted a detailed Note on the draft Declaration to the Special Rapporteur with a view to ensuring that the final version is fully in line with and that it represents a strong effort to progressively develop established international standards.

Joint Statement on Ghana’s Right to Information Bill, July 2018

Eight international organisations that promote respect for the right to information released a Joint Statement today calling on the Ghanaian authorities to review the Right to Information Bill, 2018, which is currently before parliament. The Statement outlines five key areas where the Bill fails to meet international standards.

OGP Submission on Canada’s Fourth Open Government Partnership Action Plan, March 2018

The government of Canada is currently preparing its fourth Action Plan for the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) has contributed a Submission to Ideas Discussion for Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government 2018–20. CLD has provided comments on all of Canada’s previous OGP action plans.

BC letter on Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) Reform Consultations

The Centre for Law and Democracy issued a letter to British Columbia’s Minister of Citizens’ Service, Jinny Sims, copied to the Premier of British Columbia, John Horgan, commending their announcement that consultations will be planned to discuss amending the British Colombia Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) from 26 February to 9 April 2018.

Joint letter to the Canadian government on its proposals to reform the Access to Information Act, September 2017

On International Right to Know Day , The Centre for Law and Democracy joined a global coalition of civil society organisations and concerned citizens committed to ensuring a strong access to information (ATI) system in Canada to issue a letter to the President of the Treasury Board, Scott Brison, calling on him to withdraw the government’s inadequate Access to Information Act reform legislation, Bill C-58 and come forward with a bill that would address seriously the broken access to information system.

Letter to the Prime Minister on Canada’s Participation in the OGP, September 2017

In September 2017, the Centre for Law and Democracy and similarly concerned organizations issued a letter to the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, urging Canada to accept a leadership role in the Open Government Partnership, an important forum for advancing transparency and accountability in government.

Letter to Nova Scotian Governement: Still Waiting for Promised Right to Information Reform, May 2017

Canada: Civil Society Calls for Access to Information Law Reform, April 2017

Over 50 Canadian civil society organisations and citizens sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking him to renew the commitment of his government to reform Canada’s woefully outdated Access to Information Act. Notwithstanding strong pledges to amend the Act during the election campaign and afterwards, including in its 2016-2018 Open Government Partnership (OGP) action plan, the government announced two weeks ago that it was delaying the promised reforms.

Myanmar: News Media Council is the Place for Media Complaints, July 2016

In Myanmar, the establishment of the News Media Council (NMC) as an independent co-regulatory complaints system was a major landmark on the road to democracy. However, a recent complaint by Eleven Media Group Chief Reporter, Mann Thu Shein, against Mizzima Editor-in-Chief and Managing Director, Soe Myint, and Mizzima Editor-in-Charge of Myanmar Edition, Myo Thant, seeks to avoid the NMC entirely and rely instead on a criminal defamation charge under section 34(d) of the Electronic Transactions Law (ETL).

Opinion: BC Should Reconsider Disclosure of Active Information Requests, May 2016

Joint Letter Regarding UNESCO’s Access to Information Policy, December 2016
CLD was part of a joint letter calling for the UNESCO to release a draft version of its access to information policy as soon as possible in order to receive civil society input.

Submission to the Canada Revenue Agency’s online consultation on charities’ political activities, December 2016

Canada’s legal framework for charities is both outdated and unduly restrictive, a fact which became apparent when the regulator, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), launched a spate of charity audits a few years ago. The current Canadian government has signalled an intention to revise the rules in this area and, as part of that, the CRA is holding a consultation on the rules. CLD has provided a detailed Submission to that process, calling for extensive reforms.

Submission on the Right to Information and Intergovernmental Organisations, October 2016

The Centre for Law and Democracy prepared a Submission on the applicability of the right to information to intergovernmental organisations (IGOs) in response to a call for input from the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression. The Submission argues that IGOs are bound to respect human rights, including RTI. Currently, relatively few IGOs outside of the international financial institutions have adopted policies on RTI, but they are coming under increasing pressure to do so.

The Centre for Law and Democracy has prepared a set of Comments on the Council of Europe’s draft Guidelines on Civil Participation in Political Decision-Making. The Guidelines aim to set minimum standards for Council of Europe Member States in terms of ensuring participation in relation to processes of public decision-making. CLD very much welcomes this initiative – which can help improve consultation processes – but also has a number of suggestions for tightening up and improving the draft Guidelines.

These Recommendations were drafted by the Centre for Law and Democracy in response to a Call for Comment on the Canadian Government’s proposals to revitalise access to information put out by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. To align with the purpose of the consultation, which focuses on the first phase – i.e. short term measures in advance of a full review – our Recommendations focus on those reforms which we believe are of great urgency to improve the functionality of the Access to Information Act. At the same time, we preface our specific Recommendations with some comments about manner in which the reforms are proposed to take place.

Submission to Ideas Discussion for Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government 2016-18, May 2016

This is the Centre for Law and Democracy’s (CLD) submission to the Government of Canada’s call for ideas to help shape Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government: 2016–18. We have participated in other Government of Canada Open Government Partnership (OGP) consultations and have been critical of Canada’s first two Action Plans for failing to address areas where reform is badly needed and for not paying sufficient attention to stakeholder inputs. However, we are hopeful that this Action Plan will incorporate strong and ambitious commitments, and we have made the following suggestions as priority areas for action in Canada.